Lessons from Creation

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

By looking at the actions God took in creating the world, we learn lessons for our own daily responsibilities. We find ourselves in God’s story. Just as God created the greatest story on earth, He created us and allowed us to write our own stories. His desire is that we write our story according to his great plan for us. We can learn what we need to know about story writing by looking at how God wrote his story.

 1.    God used order and purpose in creation.

God had a plan and a purpose for each part of creation. He was methodical. Everything was done in his order and in his timing. There was a strategy, a plan of creation. God created with intention. It was not haphazard, accidental, or willy nilly. No, it was in order and on purpose.. Creation functions best when we are in right alignment with God. This concept of right order lies behind the idea of "right - eousness." To be "righteous" means to be in correct alignment with God, other creatures, and the earth. 

What can we learn from God’s order? How important is it for us to live an orderly life? The Bible tells us there is a time for everything and purpose for everything under heaven. This is a reminder to us to live an intentional life.

2.    God used creative and wildly imaginative powers.  in making the heavens, earth, and man.

Consider this: Everything that has ever been created was once imagined.

We learn in the creation passage that we are created in the image of God. This means we too have been created as creative beings with spectacular imaginations. The imagination is a powerful, often overlooked, gift from God for creating loving relationships with God, our neighbors and ourselves. When reading passages in the Bible we read words for information, but it is the imagination that pulls the heart with its feelings and passion into the process of creation. When we engage our heart and mind, we allow God to move within us in a multi-dimensional way. We become fully engaged in the power of the Bible and the accounts that we read.

How does viewing the Creation story from the perspective of a vivid imagination and wild creativity change our understanding of creation? Of God?

What aspects of creation do you find most imaginative?

Do you approach our work with creativity? Do you engage your mind and spirit in the work we do? Do you use your imagination in problem solving?

3.     God was pleased with his creation.

Six times in this process of creation God stopped, looked over his handiwork and saw that it was good. On that final inspection he actually pronounced his work as “very good.” Once again, we are reminded that we are created in the image of our Father. He is pleased with his creation. He is pleased with us. God likes me; he really likes me.  He is proud of the way he made me.

Are we able to look at the work we do, the goals we accomplish, the relationships we build and say, “This is good!” or “ This is very good!”? Clearly, God enjoyed the work he did? Can you say the same? Does your work bring pleasure? If not, what changes need to take place? We learn from God that he stops periodically in the creation process to evaluate his work. Is there anything wrong with feeling good about our accomplishments?

4.    God made us in his image.

In verse 26, God says, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us...." Is this the “royal” we/us? Or is this a reference to the Trinity. He uses the plural just as he begins to create human beings. How interesting to think that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all part of the creation process! God gave us his traits, his characteristics.

 Do you see yourself as God sees you? What is the reflection in the mirror?

Because we are made in God’s image, we can feel positive about ourselves. God is pleased with his creation of you. If you feel worthless or of little value, remember that God sees you as a beautiful child of a king. Criticizing or downgrading yourself is criticizing God’s creation.

5.    God rested.

We don’t know why God rested but he must have thought it was important. We learn that after days of work, God chose to spend time resting. We too should find the time to rest and reflect after a period of work. This period of rest will renew our bodies, souls, and spirits.

 Do you find a time to rest and reflect after a period of work?

The Creation story provides us many lessons from our Creator God about living our best lives today!
The audio link below is my lesson on God's Original Blessing found in Genesis 1 & 2.
God's Original Blessing

A Time for Evaluating

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The account of Gideon in the book of Judges provides an inspirational example of a reluctant leader. Our first impression of Gideon is of him hiding in a wine press threshing wheat. He was so terrified of the Midianites so he hid from them and tried to secretly get a little bit of food for his family.  God saw not the weaknesses of a fearful man, but the strengths of a leader and called Gideon to accomplish something big.

In Judges 6 & 7 we watch as Gideon moves from despair to disappointment to doubt to discouragement and eventually to dependence on God. Gideon leads an Israelite army who is equipped only with trumpets, torches, and jars to become victorious in one of the strangest battles in history.

Accomplishing God's purposes is not determined by the size of our checkbook, the number of initials after our name, or the size of our congregation. God is looking to glorify Himself on earth through people who are fully dependent on Him. He wants people who are willing to trust in him and allow him to use their strengths, gifts, talents, and skills for his glory. He invites us to join him in doing His will. He wants us to want to serve him and work for him.  He wants us to “Get up!” and go for him just as Gideon did.

To hear this one hour lesson A Time for Evaluating, click on the link below.

Set Sail for Christ

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Have you ever tried to set sail – to step out to do something new – only to find out that something was keeping you anchored in place? Many things keep us anchored.

Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters is a series of short biographical poems about the people who lived in the fictional town, Spoon River.  One of the characters, George Gray, looks back over his life and compares it to “a boat with a furled sail at rest in a harbor.”  George was offered many opportunities and was hungry to find meaning in his life. He knew he should have left the harbor and set sail in order to fully experience life. However, George was afraid. He feared becoming disillusioned, and he dreaded taking chances. So…George never set sail.  He longed for the sea yet was afraid.

Let’s contrast George Gray with Simon Peter, also a man with a boat. Like his father and brother Andrew, Simon Peter was a fisherman by trade, working on the Lake of Galilee, a really large lake with about 30 fishing towns surround it.  Peter knew fish, he knew boating, he knew about nets and he knew about navigating the waters. Peter knew his passion and used his skill well. He learned his skill, he practiced it. He became good at it. Peter realized what he was good at doing and set sail. 

Are you more like George Gray…fearful to set out in faith and use your gifts and talents for Christ? Or are you like Simon Peter….stepping out in faith using your gifts and talents for Christ?

In the 10 minute audio below I teach 6 lessons that we learn from Simon Peter that will help us set sail for Christ.

Lesson #1: Peter set sail.

Lesson #2:   Peter followed Jesus.

Lesson #3 – Peter let Jesus use him and his tools.

Lesson #4: Peter was all in for Jesus.

Lesson #5 – Peter trusted Jesus in the storm

Lesson #6:  Peter faced his fear and walked on water for Christ
Audio - Set Sail for Christ

A Time for Healing

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Wounds can be physical, emotional, and spiritual. In our faith journeys we often get wounded. Wounds stem from many different sources: abuse, unfaithfulness, divorce, unhealthy relationships, bullying, neglect, poor self-image, etc. Most people bear some kind of wound, and some people unfortunately harbor multiple unhealed wounds and scars.
 Are you wounded? Do you suffer from any of these symptoms
·         Perfectionism
·         Feelings of guilt and shame
·         Feeling you’re never good enough
·         Low self-image
·         Self-hatred
·         Critical spirit
·         Insecurity
·         Jealousy
·         Bitterness
·         Rage

If you answered “yes” to any of these, you could berunning wounded.”

Do you recognize these as symptoms of being wounded? Sometimes we overlook the cause and continue with the symptoms. We try to fit in, act properly, or we often live in denial about our wounds. We think if we ignore them, they will go away. We justify our wounds and try to be good, not rock the boat, and be in control. These are attempts to live above the wound.

Running wounded and living above the wound have effects on our physical, spiritual, and emotional health. We focus on the negatives instead of positives. We see the impossibilities instead of the possibilities, and we are filled with fear instead of faith.

The focus on problems, difficulties, and the blows of life leave you sapped of energy, discouraged, and fearful. When we focus on our problems instead of our solutions, we are living in our weaknesses. This focus will have an effect on our spiritual journey.

Steps to Receive Healing for Wounds
1.  ACKNOWLEDGE the need for healing
2.  LOCATE the cause of the pain.
3.  CLEANSE the wound.
4.  RECEIVE HEALING of the hurt.
5.  STRENGTHEN the weak area.

How do we gain strength when we’ve been wounded?  Let’s look at 4 P’s to help us gain strength.
1.    Prayer
2.    Promises in Scripture
3.    Positive Affirmations
4.    Positive Christian support

As we gain strength in our weak areas, let us remember never to waste our wounds. We use all that we have experienced to provide love and encouragement to others who are wounded.
David's plea in Psalm 40 is for emotional healing. It gives us hope also for healing.

Psalm 40

 1 I waited patiently for the LORD;
       he turned to me and heard my cry.
 2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
       out of the mud and mire;
       he set my feet on a rock
       and gave me a firm place to stand.
 3 He put a new song in my mouth,
       a hymn of praise to our God.

 Click on the link below to hear my 1 hour lesson on A Time for Healing. 
 A Time for Healing by Dr. Cathy Robbs Turner

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Life has seasons, stages, and phases. The life cycle supports this idea. Infants become toddlers who become school age children who become teenagers who become young adults who become middle aged who become senior adults. We end one phase in order to begin another.
Some endings are natural but some are necessary, sometimes we hold on too long to something that should end.

Scripture refers to transitions that occur in our life that should also occur in our faith journey.
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 1 Corinthians 13:11 (NIV)
The idea is that as we grow in our faith, we leave behind childish ways. We grow up in our faith. We move forward in our faith journey. So as we mature in our faith we no longer think, speak, or act like a child. That period ends to make way for mature beliefs and practices. Are there some endings we need to make that will allow us to grow and blossom in our faith? What things might need to come to an end so that our faith can grow? Excuses for not having a devotional time? Sleeping in on Sunday morning? Doing things other than service or mission work? Ignoring outreach opportunities?
How do we know when something needs to end?
·        It is immoral, illegal, unethical, or ungodly.
·        It doesn’t pass the “smell test.”
·        It prevents you from living in your God-given purpose.
·        It keeps you “stuck.”
·        It is not likely to change. Past experience indicates a positive change is not likely.
·        It drains you instead of energizes you.
·        It gives you false hope. You keeping hoping things will improve and change but it never does.

In his book, Necessary Endings,  Dr. Henry Cloud says that endings are a necessary part of life. Dr. Cloud’s key metaphor for necessary endings comes from the world of gardening. A healthy, vibrant, blooming rosebush is beautiful, but does not come into being without immense effort. The key to a healthy rosebush: pruning.
Pruning is a process of proactive endings. It turns out that a rosebush, like many other plants, cannot reach its full potential without a systematic process of pruning. The gardener intentionally and purposefully cuts off branches and buds that fall into any of three categories:

1. Healthy buds or branches that are not the best ones,
2. Sick branches that are not going to get well, and

3. Dead branches that are taking up space needed for the healthy ones to thrive. (Page 15)
In our personal lives we must perform the three types of necessary endings described above if we are to flourish. Life always produces more branches than it can sustain. Pruning your life is necessary in order for us to direct limited resources, such as time, money, energy, talent, and emotions toward the things that help achieve our vision most. Often in our personal faith journey we need to leave something behind in order to move forward.  Without the ability to end things, we stay stuck and do not become who we are meant to be.

Let’s see how the gardener prunes the rosebush in order to encourage growth.
1.  The gardener assesses the rosebush to determine which buds are worthy of the plant’s limited fuel and support and then cuts the others away.We may need to consider the worth of our “buds.” Are these people, circumstances, situations that are sucking all of my fuel leaving me too dry to do the things I need to do? Are there activities that are using my limited resources, my limited energy and preventing me from pouring into the things worthy of a daughter or a king? We might need to prune.

2.   The gardener might monitor and care for the sick or diseased branches for a while. But at some point, he realizes that no matter how much water, fertilizer, or care he gives the sick branches, they will not thrive. Are there some unhealthy branches that have somehow gotten attached to you? Are there practices or people or habits that are not healthy and positive and full of life? Might they need to be pruned so that you can give life to something that will actually bloom?

3.  Dead branches force healthy ones to bend instead of grow straight. The gardener needs to cut the dead ones away. Is there a relationship or situation that is affecting the good in you? Sometimes wrong people and wrong circumstances are so diseased that they spread their sickness to other parts of our lives. They begin to kill off the good. As the dead branch inhibits the straight growth of healthy branches, so often unhealthy people cause us to bend so that we grow in an unhealthy way. Are you ready to prune the dead weeds and thorns and branches in your life?

Pruning enables rosebushes and other plants to realize their full potential.  Who wants an average rosebush when you could have a fully developed rosebush? Rosebushes are meant to be spectacular. Roses are probably considered the prize of the garden. The beauty and the fragrance of roses have been celebrated for many centuries, and they still hold a high stature in flower gardening today. Roses are not meant to be ordinary and neither are we. What might you need to end become an extraordinary Christ follower?



Thursday, June 12, 2014

Have you ever had to take a detour? Some of the longest nights of my life have been due to roadblocks and bypasses. On a trip to Europe we were scheduled to take a train from France to Spain. We waited and waited and waited and finally learned that there was a fire that spanned across the railroad tracks and prevented us from taking the train. Our group and all of the train passengers boarded busses and traveled through the night to get to our destination. We were sleepy and uncomfortable. We longed for our journey to be different.  It’s not fun to deal with roadblocks but thank goodness we were able to bypass the fire and safely get to our destination. There was a way around the roadblock. Our leaders had a plan. They helped us change direction. They steered us to our destination. I’m thankful for that detour. I’m thankful that we didn’t set out and get in the middle of hazardous situation. We safely arrived at our destination and enjoyed the beauty of Spain. Sometimes detours and bypasses and roadblocks are the best thing for us!
During Paul’s Second Missionary Journey he experienced a roadblock of sorts. He and Silas had planned to go into to Asia but for some reason the Holy Spirit told them not to go that route. We don’t know if they were told through a prophet, a vision, an inner conviction, or in some other way but the men listened to God. Their journey didn’t take them to Asia but to Macedonia where they were able to spread the Gospel and see God work in mighty ways. Paul and Silas led Lydia and a jailer to Christ soon after they arrived in Macedonia. The Gospel was spreading!  I wander what might have happened to Paul and Silas if they hadn’t listened to God’s Spirit? What might have happened to them and to the Gospel message if they had not taken the bypass? Sometimes on our journey, in our seasons, we too encounter a change of plans. We have to take a detour. Knowing where to travel on our journey and how to get there is one of our biggest challenges. Are you like Paul and Silas willing to listen to God’s plans? When we listen to God’s leading and take his bypasses, we get to see the blessings he has in store for us!
Next Paul and Silas traveled through the area of Phrygia and Galatia, because the Holy Spirit had prevented them from preaching the word in the province of Asia at that time. Then coming to the borders of Mysia, they headed north for the province of Bithynia, but again the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to go there. So instead, they went on through Mysia to the seaport of Troas.
That night Paul had a vision: A man from Macedonia in northern Greece was standing there, pleading with him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” 10 So we decided to leave for Macedonia at once, having concluded that God was calling us to preach the Good News there.
Acts 16:1-10

Celebrating the Seasons of Life Study

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

I am happy to announce the release of my new women's Bible study, Celebrating the Seasons of Life. My goal is to encourage women to live fully in God’s purpose during all the seasons of life. Based on Ecclesiastes 3:1, “for everything there is a season,” the study reminds us that God has a plan for each of us and promises to make everything beautiful for its own time.  Each of the four lessons is based on one of the calendar seasons and includes a 12 minute video and a downloadable study guide that can all be completed in one hour. Each lesson features the story of a biblical woman who used her season for her own good and God’s glory. Using the handout for each lesson you’ll turn inward to examine the season of your life and discover some strategies for living fully in your purpose. The series is designed for individual study or a small group study in the home or workplace. I hope it will serve as a blessing to women who want an easily accessible and inspiring way to grow closer to Christ. The series is available for free at www.christchurchchatt.org
Click here:  Celebrating the Seasons of Life Study

Study Outline
Lesson 1:  Season of Hope
                  The Bleeding Woman
Lesson 2:  Season of Fruitfulness

Lesson 3:  Season of Harvest
Lesson 4:  Season of Waiting
Leader Guide for Retreat Activities

Narratives of Biblical Women

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